My quest to compile a list of the top goal scorers in every NHL arena began with Toronto. This was partly because the Air Canada Centre is alphabetically first on the list of arenas, but also because the Maple Leafs are my hometown team. It seemed natural to start with the arenas where I have actually watched games.
Toronto was one of the founding members of the National Hockey League in 1917. Since then, three arenas have been used by the Toronto franchise. Here is a list of the top ten goal scorers in each of the three arenas.
Arena Gardens/Mutual Street Arena
The arena on Mutual Street was the home rink of the Toronto Blueshirts of the National Hockey Association from 1912 to 1917, and of Toronto’s National Hockey League team starting in 1917. The first NHL game at Arena Gardens was December 22, 1917. The last, a home game for the Ottawa Senators which had been moved from Ottawa to Toronto, was March 21, 1931.
|Babe Dye||106||105 with Toronto St. Patricks, 1 with Chicago Blackhawks.|
|Reg Noble||63||62 with Toronto Arenas/St. Patricks, 1 with Montreal Maroons.|
|Ace Bailey||56||All with Toronto St. Patricks/Maple Leafs.|
|Corb Denneny||52||All with Toronto Arenas/St. Patricks/Maple Leafs.|
|Jack Adams||44||43 with Toronto Arenas/St. Patricks, 1 with Ottawa Senators.|
|Harry Cameron||41||40 with Toronto Arenas/St. Patricks, 1 with Ottawa Senators.|
|Cy Denneny||36||All with Ottawa Senators.|
|Charlie Conacher||33||All with Toronto Maple Leafs.|
|Hap Day||33||All with Toronto St. Patricks/Maple Leafs.|
|Bert Corbeau||27||15 with Toronto St. Patricks/Maple Leafs, 8 with Montreal Canadiens, 4 with Hamilton Tigers.|
Ace Bailey scored four of his goals at the Ottawa home game on March 21, 1931. Charlie Conacher also scored three of his goals at that game. Another one of Conacher’s goals was scored at a Pittsburgh Pirates home game played in Toronto, February 20, 1930.
The highest scoring player who never played for Toronto is Cy Denneny, one of the most prolific goal scorers for the original Ottawa Senators. He had almost as many goals in Toronto as his brother Corb, who was a long-time Toronto player.
The arena was demolished in 1989, long before I lived in Toronto. I’m sure I’ve passed by the site on Mutual Street many times, without ever realizing there was an arena there.
Maple Leaf Gardens
Maple Leaf Gardens opened on November 12, 1931. It was the last of the Original Six arenas when the final game was played on February 13, 1999. These numbers are derived from statistics published in the Toronto Sun the day before the last game. I confirmed the totals, and divided them by team when necessary.
|Darryl Sittler||235||231 with Toronto Maple Leafs, 3 with Detroit Red Wings, 1 with Philadelphia Flyers.|
|Dave Keon||226||225 with Toronto Maple Leafs, 1 with Hartford Whalers.|
|Ron Ellis||186||All with Toronto Maple Leafs.|
|Frank Mahovlich||180||167 with Toronto Maple Leafs, 8 with Detroit Red Wings, 5 with Montreal Canadiens.|
|Rick Vaive||174||169 with Toronto Maple Leafs, 4 with Buffalo Sabres, 1 with Chicago Blackhawks.|
|George Armstrong||173||All with Toronto Maple Leafs.|
|Wendel Clark||151||All with Toronto Maple Leafs.|
|Bob Pulford||148||All with Toronto Maple Leafs.|
|Ted Kennedy||138||All with Toronto Maple Leafs.|
|Ron Stewart||123||117 with Toronto Maple Leafs, 3 with Boston Bruins, 3 with New York Rangers.|
Wendel Clark scored one more goal at a Toronto home game, which took place at Copps Coliseum in Hamilton, October 20, 1992.
The highest scorer who never played for Toronto is Gordie Howe, with 62 goals.
The Leafs’ best days had passed long before I was able to see any games there, but it was always exciting to travel downtown to watch a game as a kid with my dad. The game I remember best was October 5, 1991, the first home game of the 1991-92 season, against Detroit. It was the NHL’s 75th anniversary season, and both Toronto and Detroit were wearing throwback jerseys. I don’t know how, but my dad had managed to get seats in the gold section, only a few rows from the ice, just to the side of the goal at one end of the rink. I saw Clark score three of his goals that night. Another goal was scored by my favourite player, Gary Leeman, whose #11 jersey I had worn to the game. The legendary Steve Yzerman also scored for Detroit. However, the highlight of the night was that I caught a puck, which deflected over the glass (no protective nets in those days), off the wall above me, and landed beside my seat. I still have the puck, with its 75th anniversary logo.
Air Canada Centre
The Air Canada Centre replaced Maple Leaf Gardens midway through the 1998-99 season. The first game was played on February 20, 1999. Active players are in italics.
|Mats Sundin||140||All with Toronto Maple Leafs.|
|Darcy Tucker||83||82 with Toronto Maple Leafs, 1 with Colorado Avalanche.|
|Nik Antropov||70||68 with Toronto Maple Leafs, 2 with Atlanta Thrashers.|
|Alexei Ponikarovsky||63||61 with Toronto Maple Leafs, 1 with Carolina Hurricanes, 1 with New Jersey Devils.|
|Phil Kessel||61||58 with Toronto Maple Leafs, 3 with Boston Bruins.|
|Gary Roberts||53||49 with Toronto Maple Leafs, 3 with Florida Panthers, 1 with Carolina Hurricanes, 1 with Pittsburgh Penguins.|
|Bryan McCabe||50||47 with Toronto Maple Leafs, 3 with Florida Panthers.|
|Jonas Hoglund||42||All with Toronto Maple Leafs.|
|Matt Stajan||41||40 with Toronto Maple Leafs, 1 with Calgary.|
|Tomas Kaberle||40||All with Toronto Maple Leafs.|
Of the top ten, only Kessel is still playing for the Leafs (as of the end of the 2011-12 season). The next highest active player currently playing for Toronto is Mikhail Grabovski, with 38. He will likely appear on the list in the 2012-13 season.
The highest scorer who has never played for the Leafs is currently Dany Heatley, with 16 goals (12 with the Ottawa Senators, 4 with the Atlanta Thrashers).
I’ve been to a few games at the ACC, as well as a few concerts. It’s much more comfortable than the Gardens, but obviously lacks the historic charm of the old building. It does have great roast beef sandwiches, though.
I saw Kaberle score two of his goals against Pittsburgh on March 31, 2007, including the overtime winner. McCabe and Ponikarovsky also scored for Toronto. Gary Roberts scored his one goal with Pittsburgh, and another Pittsburgh goal was scored by Sidney Crosby.
At the game against Atlanta on February 23, 2008, I saw goals by Sundin and Antropov. At the time, it was rumoured to be Sundin’s last game with the Leafs, but in the end he played until the end of the season.
The last game I saw at the ACC was a blowout loss to the Edmonton Oilers, on December 2, 2010. The Oilers were the worst team in the league that year, but managed to shut out the Leafs 5-0. By the end, fans were rooting for the Oilers and booing the Leafs, and nonsensically cheering for the Toronto Blue Jays and Argonauts. It was a terrible game, but hopefully I will get to see some better ones in the future.
Fortunately or unfortunately, I won’t be able to include personal anecdotes for the other arenas, as I’ve never been to a game outside Toronto. But I will continue to post lists for the other Canadian arenas, and eventually all the other NHL arenas as well.
For a list of the top scorers at all the regular home arenas, see my list of goals per arena.
For 1917-18 to 1925-26, 1938-39, 1942-43, and 1952-53 to 1986-87, I used the game logs at the Hockey Summary Project.
For 1987-88 to the present, I used the “play finder” at Hockey Reference to find goals scored at home.
For the seasons missing from the Hockey Summary Project, I used the game logs in contemporary newspaper reports from the Google News archive. All game results can be found using a combination of the Montreal Gazette, the Ottawa Citizen, the Border Cities Star/Windsor Daily Star, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the Pittsburgh Press, the Calgary Daily Herald/Calgary Herald, and the Saskatoon Phoenix/Saskatoon Star-Phoenix.
The list for Maple Leaf Gardens, originally published February 12, 1999 in the Toronto Sun, is online at canoe.ca. (They also include a list of the top visiting goal scorers, but their count of 93 for Howe is far too high.)